South Africa coach Allister Coetzee was frustrated by his side's failure to capitalise on sufficient openings as a 27-27 draw with Australia ended their faint hopes of winning the Rugby Championship.
New Zealand were crowned champions for a 15th time as a result of the Springboks and Wallabies failing to find a winner between them for the second occasion in this year's competition.
South Africa twice took the lead in a thrilling seesaw affair of a second half, while Elton Jantjies pulled a penalty wide with two minutes to play.
But the Boks had been behind the eight ball from the early stages, having failed to make the most of early territory before falling behind to Israel Folau's try.
"We created opportunities and that was the pleasing thing," said Coetzee. "The fact that we did not convert all of those, was not.
"This was a fantastic Test match, with the physicality right up there and the skillset on display was very good and we were part of that.
"There were foundations laid and lessons learned tonight that will take this team forward.
"We do create opportunities; players must never be scared to take chances. We feel that we were the better team out there tonight."
The Boks tries came from a variety of sources; prop Ruan Dreyer burrowing over, Jan Serfontein finishing a flowing move down the flank and Courtnall Skosan powering to the line despite two Wallabies hanging onto him.
The versatility came to Coetzee's general satisfaction.
"The physicality of our backs was good," he said. "When we needed to go through them, we did, and when we needed to go around them, we could. We played against an experienced and world-class backline and shaped up well.
"We expected the brilliant playing conditions and wanted to play the ball wide at times, this worked well for us. We managed some good, wide passes."